Chinese Noodle Basics

Sun Mian
Loose nests of soft off-white fresh wheat noodles are sold, refrigerated, in 1-pound bags. Buy no more than two days before using and store in refrigerator. Some sun mian are thin and round; others are broader and flat-more ribbonlike. All must be boiled for about 7 minutes. Add to soups or toss with sauces.
Christopher Hirsheimer
Gan Mian
Stiff off-white dried wheat noodles are sold either in 3/4-pound bags in small swirls, or in long straight bundles. Look in dried noodle section; store in a dry place. Ingredients (wheat flour and salt) are listed on label in English. Noodles must be boiled for about 7 minutes. Add to soups or toss with sauces.
Christopher Hirsheimer
Nen Dzem Fen
Short hand-rolled fresh rice noodles, also called silver pin noodles, are sold in 1-pound bags or pouches. Look in refrigerator section, buy up to two days before using, and store in refrigerator. These don't need soaking or boiling-just stir-fry with meats and vegetables until just heated through.
Christopher Hirsheimer
Mi Fen
Folded bundles or blocks of wispy white rice vermicelli are sold in 1-pound packages. Look in dried noodle section. Store in a dry place. These must be soaked in hot water until soft, about 20 minutes. Then add to stir-fries or, after boiling for about 5 seconds, to soups (noodles will cloud soup if not boiled separately).
Christopher Hirsheimer
Sha Ho Fen
Fresh rice sheets are sold individually or folded, lightly oiled, and layered in 1-pound bags. Look in refrigerator section, buy up to two days before using, and store in refrigerator. Cut as desired (they come precooked) and use as wrappers or in soups: Simply place strands in a bowl and cover with hot broth.
Christopher Hirsheimer
Fen Si
Brittle white bean threads also called ''green'' bean threads or cellophane noodles (they turn clear when cooked), are tied in 1.8-, 3.5-, and 8.8-ounce bunches. Look in dried noodle section. Store in a dry place. Soak in hot water for about 20 minutes before adding to soups, braised dishes, or dumplings.
Christopher Hirsheimer
Dan Mian
Long yellow fresh egg noodles are sold in 1-pound bags; thinner versions are available as well. Look in refrigerator section, buy up to two days before using, and store in refrigerator. Do not soak or preboil noodles; just add directly to stir-fries or, if using the more delicate thinner noodles, to soups.
Christopher Hirsheimer
Shi Dan Mian
Tangles of fresh egg noodles are sold in 1-pound bags. Look in refrigerator section, buy up to two days before using, and store in refrigerator. They must be boiled for about 5 minutes. Use in stir-fries, soups, or shallow-fried dishes.
Christopher Hirsheimer